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Career Options for Working Parents

In the world of parenting, there are very few choices that are absolutely black and white. You can choose between a rainbow of different schooling options, limited only by factors such as your available time, income and transportation. Choosing where, when and how to work in paid employment when you are a parent is a similar choice. You don’t have to be June Cleaver or a highly driven executive, although you could choose one of those roles if it was right for you.

There is a wide range of choice when it comes to employment, and the right choice for you will depend on your goals for your career, your family and your income. Here’s an overview of career options for working parents.

Full-time Employment Outside the Home

Many mothers and fathers choose to work full-time outside the home, both out of the financial necessity of a full-time income and a desire to invest time and energy into developing and maintaining a fulfilling career. Factors that affect the choice to work full-time include the cost and availability of childcare, how important it is to you to maintain contacts and growth in your career, and whether or not you could make ends meet without one parent’s salary.

Part-time Employment and Job Sharing

For parents who do not need or want to work full-time, there are many options for part-time employment and job sharing. This can be an attractive choice for parents who need some additional income but can’t afford full-time childcare, or for parents of young children who still want to be home part of the time. If you’re leaving a full-time job on maternity leave, find out what your employer’s policy on job sharing or scaling back to part-time employment is like. A flexible arrangement that allows you to gradually increase your hours when you return to work can make a smoother transition for yourself and your child.

Telecommuting and Working From Home

If you were never a fan of water cooler chit chat or office politics but you’d like to have some income and the challenge of working while you stay at home with your child, telecommuting or working from home might be a good option for you. When looking for telecommuting or freelance jobs, always stay away from any job ads that ask you to pay money in order to access employment. Also keep in mind that if you’re planning on working from home while looking after your children you might find that you need some regular childcare after all, especially if naps and bedtimes are unpredictable.

Of course, factors such as personality also have an impact on whether a parent chooses to go back to full-time work, telecommute or job share. More outgoing people are likely to need more social contact in their lives, which means that working from the solitude of their own home during naptimes might be a less attractive option than heading out to a job which brings them into contact with many different people each day. Whatever work arrangement you choose, make sure that you’re choosing it because it is the right choice for you and your family.

Originally published on Suite101.com on April 28, 2008

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  • Amber April 11, 2010, 9:02 pm

    I have done all of those things, as well as staying home full time. For me, the biggest surprise was how hard it is to work from home with a little kid around. Toddlers just do NOT respect your time or your deadlines. I really thought it was the perfect solution, but for me it ended up being a real grind.
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..Why I Save Seeds =-.

    • michelle April 12, 2010, 7:16 am

      So true…the biggest shock for me was when Bea gave up her nap. I went from 5-10 daytime hours available for work per week to NONE, and she had only just turned two. I was so frustrated, but it pushed me to find a few hours of childcare each week and rearrange expectations for our weekends, which ended up being a good thing for our family.